This Is Modern Aging


Advance Directives, Living Wills, Healthcare Proxy: Your Must-Have Healthcare Documents

Do you know what advance directives are? When Mom had her stroke, we were in shock. She was a vibrant, independent, seemingly healthy 65 year old. She worked at the restaurant she created, did yoga, spent time with friends, took the dog on a walk daily. She laid in the emergency room and of course we were all emotional and just kept saying that this was a little blip and like everything else in her life, she would overcome and we would go back to normal life. She was in the ICU for weeks. As she was in the hospital, we realized that we didn’t really know what her healthcare wishes were. We also didn’t know how to pay her bills. We didn’t know anything! It’s a frightening and incredibly stressful position to be in. Remember Terry Schiavo? The woman who laid in a vegetative state for 15 years because her husband and her parents disagreed on whether or not to pull her feeding tube! Both parties thought they knew what she would have wanted. But unless you express your wishes, they can’t be honored.

That’s why I wanted to do this episode on Advance Directives. These documents remove the question of what to do in the event of a health crisis. You appoint your healthcare proxy –the person you want to speak on your behalf in the event you become incapacitated. The living will outlines your wishes, how you do and do not wish to be medically treated. DNR (Do Not Resuscitate), MOLSTs (Medical Order for Life Sustaining Treatment) are other forms that also articulate your wishes. The hope is that you never need to use these forms but have them on hand just in case. Just like car or home insurance — you have them in the event of an accident.

Elder Law Attorney Linda Redlisky is amazing at breaking it all down and explaining the differences between the documents and what is at stake when you don’t have them filled out.

You can fill out your healthcare proxy at your state’s heath care site. On the Modern Aging website’s resource section, we also recommend using Legal Zoom or Law Depot to obtain all the necessary forms. Each state has their own forms so be sure to check on that.

Just go and do them for yourself and every adult member of your family so you don’t have to deal with it during a health crisis.


Ms. Redlisky is a partner at Rafferty & Redlisky, LLP concentrating in elder law, including guardianships,Medicaid planning, and estate administration. She routinely is appointed by the Court to serve as Court Evaluator, Guardian and Counsel to the Alleged Incapacitated Person in complex matters involving turnover proceedings and surcharge hearings. Ms. Redlisky is a graduate of the Albany School of Law where she earned her Juris Doctor degree in 1992. Ms. Redlisky attended the State University of New York at Binghamton, where she graduated with Bachelor of Arts degree with honors in 1989.

Ms. Redlisky is a member of the executive committee of the New York State Bar Association’s Elder Law and Special Needs committee, chair of the Client and Consumer Affairs sub-committee, and a member of the Westchester Women’s Bar Association. Ms. Redlisky also the incoming Secretary of the New York State Bar Association’s Section on Women in the Law, having co-chaired the Committee of Women on the Move for three years. She volunteers her time as a coach for the Ursuline School’s first Mock Trial Team. She can be reached at redlisky [at]

Close Menu